Jumping into the smart phone arena last year, I bought an Android platform device and continue to be amazed at the technology and uses that this tool, and others like it, has to offer.  One of my first ventures was to download a variety of “apps” that I thought may be useful.  While visiting various websites for app reviews, I began to notice a strange, black and white, square box that appeared to be for scanning.  These boxes were usually in print advertisements or placed on the webpage for the particular app.  My investigative prowess was correct; these little boxes were indeed meant to be scanned, by me!  I quickly learned that these boxes were known as “QR” codes.

The QR Code, or Quick Response code, was originally developed in the mid-1990’s in Japan.  The code is a two-dimensional barcode and is meant to contain text, URL, or other data.  The QR code is able to be scanned by most barcode type scanners, including those readily found available for today’s smart phone.  The commercial industry has used this technology extensively, and it is now finding its way into other markets with the widespread use of mobile technology.  It is hard to find people that do not have access to a smart phone these days.  Private industry has recognized the need to reach customers through new means, like that of the QR code, and it is imperative that we in government do so, as well.

Application for government and public safety use is endless.  Some thoughts that quickly come to mind for use and placement of QR codes may include:

  • Adding a QR code to your business card to include a personal vCard allows you to immediately exchange contact information without exchanging the card (saves money and you’re going green at the same time).
  • Placement of a QR code on the agency webpage containing contact information or a link with directions to your facility.
  • Use of a QR code in crime bulletins to allow a viewer to link directly to the agency tip submittal page, like Crime Stoppers.
  • As a teaching aid, the QR code may be inserted into a lesson plan with a hidden message to attract the tech savvy student or youth.
  • Link directly to your Facebook or other social media with a QR code.

The list above is just the tip of what can be accomplished with some simple steps and a short time investment.  Perform a quick Internet search for QR code generator and your return will be filled with viable sources, the majority of which are free!  Many of the free sites ask nothing in return and allow you to generate your customized QR code by simply inputting the information that you wish included in the code.  You may create a code with agency contact information like is now posted on the side bar of the Arcadia Police Department News & Information Blog or create something with a hidden message like the one shown here: